2020 has quickly become the year of delays. From Cyberpunk 2077's single and multiplayer modes, to Marvel's Avengers, and even the entire 2020 Ubisoft lineup, it's clear that developers have one thing in mind: get it right the first time. Because, let's face it, most of us are sick and tired of paying to be beta testers.
Too many games have launched over the past few years that completely ignore the fact that the consumer was the one paying for it, oftentimes taking months of patches before the game finally gets to a proper shipping state. We've seen this with games like No Man's Sky, which quite literally took years to reach the maturity required to sustain the interest of the millions of players that now enjoy it. Then there are titles like Fallout 76, which were a horrific, buggy, nearly unplayable mess at launch.
First impressions are everything. Initial review scores don't go away. Everyone loses when games are rushed; players hate the game and word of mouth spreads. Publishers and developers lose money not just because of poor sales numbers, but because the price of a game has to drop. Indie game developers have a hard enough time with small teams because of the low prices their games sell at, so how much worse is it for developers that work for large companies that spend millions of dollars on development over the course of several years?
The answer is found in the DLC, the microtransaction, and loot crate nonsense trends we've seen in order to make up for poor planning and bad business decisions, often spurred on by tight development and release schedules that inherently encourage mediocrity upon launch. Delays are, as a whole, a good thing when a publisher or developer doesn't feel satisfied with what's being done and, ultimately, is looking to deliver the best experience to their fans.
But let's not fool ourselves, the delay doesn't necessarily mean a break for the developers. If anything, this could result in worse "crunch time" for devs that are already suffering from lack of sleep and the side effects that stem from poor sleeping habits. No one wants to subsidize poor management decisions, and no one wants to see developers' lives suffer because of them either. The social response to Cyberpunk 2077's delay shows that people are understanding the development process in a way they didn't in the past, but that doesn't mean outspoken consumers will be as understanding the next time around.
CD Projekt Red made the right decision in delaying the game several months instead of several weeks, giving developers plenty of time to finalize any technical or content issues that might have arisen. With cross-platform development becoming more and more common, and games becoming more and more grandiose, something has to give. Gamers want a good experience, not jank. They want a complete game, not one that they have to keep paying for over time, especially when they paid full price for it.
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